"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?... The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more—we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Just as a person is defiled by what goes out of the mouth, rather than what goes into it (Matthew 15:11), the US flag is defiled by what is done in its name, rather than what is done to the physical symbol. This is splendidly illustrated in the photograph above, in which we see the arrest of a peaceful man who had committed no crime against persons or property, but whose patriotic display of the U.S. flag engendered a violent response from local adherents to the cult of nationalism.
Mark and Deborah Kuhn of Asheville, North Carolina are devoted activists who pursue political change using non-violent means. The message on their answering machine -- which I've heard twice, in unsuccessful attempts to contact them directly -- offers the greeting: "Peace and love."
Mortified over the violent, corrupt, and increasingly degenerate nature of the regime that rules us, the Kuhns displayed, on their own property, a U.S. flag -- an item they had legally purchased -- displayed upside-down. This is a universally recognized distress sign, and the Kuhns' intent was to underscore the plight of our country, which is being destroyed by the regime.
This was, in brief, a patriotic protest, which is why it attracted the malign attention of a servant of the regime.
On July 18, the Kuhns report, they received a visit from a police officer who asked them if everything was all right. He was reportedly polite and professional, and told them that there was no statute or ordinance forbidding them to display the flag upside-down. In the interests of clarifying their point, the Kuhns attached a small sign to the flag explaining the purpose of the display, and another handbill calling for the overdue removal of George W. Bush from the White House.
Shortly thereafter, an individual clad in fatigues and driving a car with US Government license plates -- the latter being the unmistakable token of a parasite -- paid a visit to harass the Kuhns about their display.
This vigilant fellow was Staff Sergeant Mark Radford of the 105th Military Police Battalion of the North Carolina National Guard. Acting as a dutiful spitzel, this self-appointed guardian of nationalist purity contacted a friend at the Buncombe County Sheriff's Department. Early on the morning of July 25, Debuty Brian Scarborough swaggered up to the door and demanded that the Kuhns take down the flag, which they did. Scarborough then demanded that the couple present ID and accept a citation for "flag desecration" -- which is forbidden by a pointless and facially unconstitutional ordinance that had fallen into desuetude.
"We refused," recalled Deborah. "We said, `Why should we show you our ID -- are you arresting us?' so we walked back into the house and closed the door."
Were Brian Scarborough a sentient being, rather than state enforcement agent, he would have let the matter drop. It's likely that even ten years ago, the typical Deputy Sheriff in this situation would have simply asked the couple to take down their flag, tipped his hat, and left it at that.
But this is the era of the "New Police Professionalism," and Scarborough is an agent of the Homeland Security State. He was clad in the majesty of the regime, and the Kuhns had refused to submit to his will. Accordingly, he kicked the door, punched out the glass (thereby cutting his hand, a consequence he was apparently too dim to foresee), and forced open the door.
Scarborough would later insist that Kuhn inflicted that injury by slamming the door on his hand. He lied, of course: Several eyewitnesses confirm that the Deputy cut himself breaking in to the Kuhns' home.
Having committed an act of criminal trespass, Scarborough then compounded that crime with assault by making threats of violence against the Kuhns, as Deborah reported in a frantic phone call to 911. Her gesture evinced a touchingly misplaced faith in the possibility of casting out Beelzebub by the power of Beelzebub: Once the police learned that one of their own was in trouble, five additional squad cars converged on the scene.
This was done to deal with an unarmed, non-violent couple who had displayed their flag in a way incompatible with the tenets of aggrieved nationalism.
Scarborough seized Mark, thereby committing aggravated battery; Mark escaped and fled outside, where he was pursued by several police as astonished neighbors gathered.
One of the officers produced a taser and threatened to shoot Mark with it -- an act that should be considered assault with a deadly weapon. The same hero made the same threat against Deborah.
Mark submitted and was handcuffed. As the arrest unfolded, Staff Sgt. Radford, a REMF with nothing better to do than harass local civilians, drove past the Kuhns' home and heckled them: "Go to jail, baby!"
Mark and Deborah were arrested on the flag "desecration" charge (which is not a crime against persons or property), two counts of "assaulting a government employee" (based on Scarborough's self-serving lies), and resisting arrest. They were bailed out of jail by their son, who posted $1,500 bond.
I cannot improve on Mark Kuhn's summary of his experience, which resonates with Alexander Solzhenitsyn's lament, as quoted above:
"If Americans don't wake up to the martial state we're in, the cops, the police, the sheriffs, the state police will all come to our door and take us away if we allow this to happen -- it's time for America to wake up."
How DARE he express his political opinions in public? Alan McConnell, a 74-year-old activist from Silver Spring, Maryland, is dragged off to jail by Jabba the Cop and two Stormtroopers for the supposed offense of selling political buttons at a farmer's market.
Kuhn is convinced his case is not an aberration. I wholeheartedly agree.
Witness the arrest of Alan McConnell of Silver Spring, Maryland, on ginned-up trespass charges after the 74-year-old activist continued to sell pro-impeachment buttons at a local farmer's market. Local town officials insisted that McConnell was "aggressive," that his buttons were divisive, and by selling them he was making people "uncomfortable." So they instructed the police to issue a no-trespass order which was in fact a bill of attainder intended to shut down McConnell's commerce.
The results can be seen in the photo above, as well as the fact that this elderly patriot faces six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for refusing to permit the local Politburo to deny him his right to express his opinions in a free marketplace.
Colorado resident Steve Howards likewise learned that peacefully expressing his political views was a crime. His antagonist wasn't the local Politburo: It was the Chief Commissar himself, Dick Cheney and the U.S. Secret Service (or SS).
During a chance encounter with Comrade Cheney outside a mall in Beaver Creek, Colorado last June, Howards approached the Vice President and in a voice of polite disapproval said: “Your policies in Iraq are reprehensible.” He then walked away.
Now, you just know this wasn't going to go unpunished.
After all, an SS spokesdrone told the Vail Daily News after the incident, Howards had drawn attention to himself by his "odd actions near Cheney"; he "wasn't acting like other folks in the area."
Indeed: Where others were awed into paralyzed deference by Cheney's malignant majesty, Howards remembered that he is a citizen, and acted like one. Such things just aren't permissible, of course.
A few minutes after his encounter with Cheney (and doubtless following the mental and spiritual equivalent of a cleansing shower), Howards was tracked down by a Secret Service agent, handcuffed in front of his 8-year-old son, and accused of “assaulting the Vice President.” Jailed for three hours and released on a $500 bond, Howards was charged with the lesser offense of harassment, a charge that was eventually dropped. After all, the point was made: Criticizing our rulers to their faces will be treated as a criminal offense.
“I was incredulous this could be happening in the United States of America,” recalls Howard. “This is what I read about happening in Tiananmen Square.”
Howards, to his considerable credit, has not let the matter drop. He has filed a lawsuit (.pdf) against Virgil D. "Gus" Reichle, Jr. (that's how the name is spelled in the complaint), the SS agent who assaulted and arrested him -- and who actually threatened to have his eight-year-old son turned over to the oh-so-nice people at Child Protective Services. (Howards' son, incidentally, escaped that fate by running away in terror and finding his mother; it's amazing he wasn't arrested for resisting arrest or some other spurious charge.)
Not a real police vehicle ... yet: An evil Decepticon disguises itself as a sleek Camaro bearing an eerily appropriate permutation of the familiar police slogan (below).
All of the foregoing accounts describe the local police (and the SS, collaborating with local police) as enforcers of political orthodoxy, rather than defending persons and property.
They were acting as the security "Organs" of the Regime, not as peace officers defending the rights of peaceful, law-abiding citizens.
It's not difficult to imagine how the incidents described above would be perceived had they occurred in Venezuela or Iran -- and in those benighted countries, incidents of this sort (and others much worse than these) are common.
The point, of course, is that things of this sort are becoming common here, where they should never happen at all. We've not yet reached the dismal situation described by Solzhenitsyn, but if he were living here today he'd have little difficult recognizing the familiar odor of incipient totalitarianism in our Homeland Security State.
A bonus illustration of the prevailing lunacy:
Monica Montoya, a 25-year-old mother from Roselle Park, New Jersey, cheerfully cooperated with the police when they asked her to interpret for an accident victim. For reasons nobody has explained, she ended up being handcuffed and dragged to a squad car, pleading with the officer to allow her to contact the babysitter tending her six-year-old daughter.
Montoya was charged with "obstructing justice" and "resisting arrest" -- which makes no sense at all, given that -- once again -- she was assisting the police, which apparently is enough to get innocent people arrested in our embryonic Reich.
A personal note --
Once again I must offer deep and heartfelt thanks for the astounding generosity you have displayed toward my family. I appreciate beyond expression your prayers, kind thoughts, and donations; God bless you.
Korrin is in her fourth week of hospitalization. This is the longest of the five stints she has had in the hospital since April 2006, and her prognosis is not promising. I hope she'll be well enough to come home -- we have five small children who miss her terribly, six if you count her childish husband -- but right now it's just as likely that her hospitalization may continue for quite a while longer. Please keep her in your prayers.
For what it's worth, you, your wife and your family are in my thoughts. You have spoken out for freedom and paid the price for it, and I deeply respect you for it.
Nice piece Will. Nobody tells it like you.
Here's a similar story, but with a more peaceful ending.
How's this for a public response? Crowds converged on the raided facility to block the agents' exit, until the patrons & employees therein were released without arrest.
I used to live in Asheville - I grew up there, in fact. My sister lives right down the road from where this happened and has kept up on the events. She's actually started to get political (leaning libertarian!) because of it, and she has purchased an American flag. Along with several other residents in this neighborhood, she is proudly displaying it upside down.
I just noticed the Ron Paul sign behind the couple in the picture.
To desecrate means to treat "not as sacred". The couple's actions were entirely appropriate and commendable as both a warning and a protest if one assumes that America (the concept of freedom integrity that they hold far more sacred than its cloth symbol) is going in the wrong direction or has recently become something dishonorable. The Gestapo behavior of the police reinforces their point all the more!
Sacred flag indeed! Talk about idol worship. I posted the link to this story on TAV (The American View) and no one has commented or responded. You'd think they would jump all over it, but apparently there are some who believe this is left wing propaganda. Talk about living in denial!
Will, I've been reading your blog for a while now. Repeatedly, you have implied (if I read you correctly -- if not, I apologize) that something is amiss because Americans have not seen fit to take up arms against this tyrannical state.
While I sympathize with your frustration, this kind of complaint is problematic for a couple of reasons. In the first place, it sounds a whole lot like, "Let's you and them fight it out!" Presumably, the author will join the fight when it looks like our side is winning.
Like you, I am a libertarian at heart. I want to live my life in peace and be left alone by the state.
I am also a student of Christ, albeit a poor one. This brings me to my second, and more important point, which is hinted at in the following quotes from scripture:
"You have learnt how it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, Offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him." Mt. 5.38-41
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those whose persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Mt. 5.43-46
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell." Mt. 10.28
There are more but you know this better than I. Even so-called "Christian just-war theory" has nothing to do with Christ. How can armed resistance to tyranny be reconciled with His unambiguous commandment to live as the Lamb of God, even in a world of wolves?
I ask this not in judgement but as someone who struggles with this question myself.
If I'm being honest, I think Christ is right. We can not defeat violence (the essence of the state) by employing the same. Case in point: The fruits of the American Revolution have already rotted into a tyranny far worse than the one that was ostensibly overthrown in armed revolt just over 230 years ago.
What to do, then? The great libertarian Frank Chodorov advocated, first, self-improvement, then education of those already predisposed toward freedom (he believed individualists were born that way, as were socialists.) I think he was correct. And this approach is consistent with the teachings of Christ.
Historically it was the pacifist - but only after the bloody fiasco at Munster, the New Jerusalem in 1533 - anabaptists during the Protestant Reformation that exalted the sermon on the mount over the rest of Scripture, such as Roman 13 or John the Baptist's advice to soldiers in Luke 3. But ALL scripture is inspired and useful for doctrine . . . 2 Tim. 3:16, not just the words of Christ in red or the New Testament alone. There is evil in the world ever since the fall in the garden of Eden and the state is intended to bear the sword for good - or I trust we are agreed, it is illegitimately using its power. Of course we see a lot of the latter these days with the decline of Christianity. Particularly Protestant Reformation Christianity.
Lord Acton's famous phrase regarding power corrupting, while absolute power corrupts absolutely was in context of the divine right of kings and the infallibility of the pope. He saw the problem, but as a liberal Roman churchman didn't realize the answer, if not that he thought it was found in history. Yet only an appeal to an other world authority is capable of overcoming/withstanding tyranny in this world, whether in church or state. Only in Scripture can a final word and authority be found that trumps both ecclesiastical and civil claims to absolute obedience and belief.
Nevertheless the ordinance of civil government is of God and does not originate in the grandiose schemes for power by men, whatever libertarians or anarchists might believe. Even further, abusus non tollit usus. The abuse of something is no argument against its proper use.
Private individuals though, are only to take the sword into their own hands for self defense, not vengeance.
In other words, the anabaptists would do well to read their Augustine, not only on how to interpret the Scripture, but also on the doctrine of the just war, if not even better the doctrines of free and sovereign grace which are the only real cure for the sincere but pseudo anabaptist piety.
Actually, when you call for more Scripture than just the NT, you want to include 1 Samuel 8. Romans 13:1-7 is one Scripture among the whole list, and we make a mistake if we insist on reading all other Scripture through the traditional interpretation there. The anabaptists are much closer to the whole teaching of Scripture than you think. Further, you have to read Romans 13 in the light of Romans 12, and be careful with just exactly what the text says and what you might think it is endorsing.
As far as the just war theory which you think adequate, may I suggest a resource of interest: John Howard Yoder, _When War is Unjust_.
The Anabaptists / Radical Reformation had different wings; the Munsterite apocalypticists were distinct from the pacificistic wing, which is evident by their actions.
On to Will's article. The US Flag code insists that the US flag is "a living thing":
176(j): "The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart."
Idolatry happens easily, whether flag or state, it is a very current potential. These officers mentioned in Will's article were engaged in defending "a living thing" for the state. The Kuhns offended. And there is where we are.
I actually thought flying the US flag upside down meant that you were in distress and needed help. The country definitely needs help. I don't necessarily agree with your views but I don't think someone should be punished or treated like this for voicing their views. Even conservatives like me recognize that we all have opinions and some may not like it. If we try to stifle our opinions we will become a communist country and then never get our say about anything.
It is a known fact that our elected officials and other "public servants" do not fear the public. Was it not Thomas Jefferson who said:
When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Isn't that why the 2nd Amendment exists? Our "public servants" need to be reminded that their titles are not "public tyrants." Is it time to water the Tree of Liberty?
flying the American flag upsidedown is a sign of distress, not really of disrespect, but it shouldn't be done without good cause
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